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Tag:Mark Buehrle
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Miami Marlins



By Matt Snyder


All of a sudden, in just one offseason, the Miami Marlins have undergone a complete makeover. They have a new name, logo and stadium. New, more colorful uniforms are part of the deal as well. Still, that's all window-dressing if the on-field product resembles the 72-90 one from 2011. And it doesn't. Not only did the Marlins bring in three highly-coveted and high-priced free agents, but they traded for fiery Carlos Zambrano and brought in one of the most outspoken -- and, at times, effective -- managers in baseball. How Ozzie Guillen's new-look troops fare in the 2012 season remains to be seen, but two things are certain: More people will be in attendance to find out and it's not going to be boring.

Major additions: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc
Major departures: RHP Javier Vazquez, C John Baker, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Chris Volstad

Probable lineup
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (a.k.a. Mike Stanton)
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Carlos Zambrano

Wade LeBlanc is the injury replacement.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Heath Bell
Set-up: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn

Important bench players

C Brett Hayes, IF Greg Dobbs, OF Scott Cousins, OF Bryan Petersen

Prospect to watch
For this year, there really aren't many guys on the radar ready to jump in and immediately help. Third base prospect Matt Dominguez is in Triple-A, but he's now blocked by one of the team leaders in Hanley Ramirez. All the other highly-ranked Marlins prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors. So we'll go with Dominguez here for this reason: Should he have a big first three months in Triple-A while the Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, he makes for good trade bait at the deadline. Maybe they could use him to upgrade the bridge to Heath Bell or even as part of a package to landing a really good center fielder.

Fantasy breakout: Logan Morrison
"Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back: Hanley Ramirez
"Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everyone behaves, Ramirez and Johnson stay healthy and have big seasons while the youngsters (Stanton, Morrison) develop into stars. Especially now that there are two wild cards, the Marlins have a great shot at the playoffs with this group. And once you get there, anything can happen, so I'd say an optimistic outlook has them winning the third World Series in franchise history. If you look at the upside in the offense and rotation in particular, it's hard to argue against a best-case scenario being a championship. Then again ...

Pessimistic outlook
Utter disaster. The club doesn't respond to Guillen, Johnson injures his arm again, Zambrano melts down, Morrison quibbles with management over Twitter, Ramirez starts slow and demands a trade due to wanting to play shortstop again ... you get it. I can't think of another club with such high-peak and low-valley potential entering the 2012 season. This group of personalities could be the new Bronx Zoo champion or a catastrophic mix on the field that finishes last. Almost literally, anything could happen. As I said in the intro, it certainly won't be boring. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:04 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 10:12 pm
 

MLB, Showtime believe 'The Franchise' has legs

Ozzie GuillenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Over the next couple of weeks, Major League Baseball and Showtime will be planning out the rest of their shoots over the course of the season for this season of The Franchise, which will follow the Miami Marlins' season. But by the time the regular season begins in April, Chris Tully, MLB senior vice president  for broadcasting, said they'll already be looking for the 2013 subject.

"We think this concept has legs," Tully said on Tuesday. "I think Showtime has as much passion for the project as we do. The challenge was getting it launched, but once we were able to get over that hurdle, the reception has been excellent."

After following the Giants in season one, Tully said several teams approached MLB about opening their doors for the cameras in 2012. But as many teams as expressed interest, there was one team that just stood out and made the decision easy -- the new-look Marlins.

"I think we're foturnate with the players already on hand and the new players they brought in. With Ozzie (Guillen), the new stadium, the new branding, the new uniforms. We're catching them at the most opportune time."

Miami Marlins
It seems so. There will be no shortage of storylines for this season of The Franchise -- the show, Tully said, will no doubt touch on Guillen, Hanley Ramirez's move to third base to accommodate newcomer Jose Reyes, the addition of Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle, as well as the opening of a new stadium. Tully confirmed a Miami Herald report that the filming has already begun, including the Marlins' meeting with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last week. The cameras will certainly be rolling when the Marlins' pitchers and catchers report for spring training this weekend.

But it's the stories that have yet to emerge that are the most exciting, Tully said. One of his favorite storylines in the Giants season was the unlikely emergence of Ryan Vogelsong, who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2006 and then made the All-Star team in 2011.

"One of the key things is giving access to viewers that they don't usually get," Tully said. "How do they interact with each other, with management and how they interact with their family and friends."

Last season the series started with a "sneak peak" in April and then started in July for a run of nine total episodes. This season is expected to be nine episodes, but it's unlikely they'll have a preview episode, starting the full nine half-hour episodes shortly after the All-Star break and running through September.

Most exciting, though, may be that we'll get the full, uncensored Guillen, who is known to like an expletive or two. Those were bleeped when he was featured as part of The Franchise's precursor The Club, on MLB Network.

"We didn't use bleeps last year," Tully said. "I don't think language is a focus or a concern."

It's just going to be a bonus.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.


Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:05 pm
 

Indians interested in Hafner-Burnett swap



By C. Trent Rosecrans

While CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports the Yankees and Pirates are still hoping to get a deal done that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh, he also notes the Angels and Indians have tried to get in on the talks for Burnett.

While the Angels are on Burnett's no-trade clause, the Indians deal could make some sense. The two teams are discussing sending Travis Hafner to New York in exchange for the much maligned right-hander.

So does it make sense for the Indians? Perhaps.

Let's not make any mistake, Burnett's not been good as a Yankee and he's certainly not been $82.5 million good. But it's also a mistake to dismiss Burnett as a someone who doesn't belong in the big leagues or in a rotation. The right-hander has enough stuff to tempt a team to give him big money -- in fact before the Yankees splurged on Burnett, the Blue Jays spent a lot of money on him.

Let's get the first part out of the way, Burnett, despite early concerns in his career, has been durable, starting 32 or more games in each of the last four seasons. In 2008, he led the American League with 34 starts and threw 221 1/3 innings. Last season, for all the complaints and even some early hooks, he threw 190 1/3 innings, averaging nearly six innings a start. He still struck out 173 batters -- he can miss bats. He also misses the glove too much, throwing a big-league most 25 wild pitches, hitting nine batters and walking 83.

While Burnett's road ERA was actually worse than his home ERA, he did give up homers at a slightly lower rate away from Yankee Stadium.

Burnett's ERA last season 5.15 -- not exactly a number you want to see in the probables -- but his xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching -- a measure of things pitchers are directly responsible for, while taking away the ability of his fielders and normalized for his ballpark) was a respectable 3.86. To put that in perspective, that was better than the likes of Mark Buehrle (4.14), Ervin Santana (3.93) and Trevor Cahill (3.90), and not much worse than the likes of Ryan Vogelsong (3.85), Jered Weaver (3.80) and Matt Cain (3.78). His career xFIP is 3.78 -- better than his career ERA of 4.10.

Burnett can add 10 teams to his no-trade list each season, with word that most of those teams are on the West Coast.

It still seems like the Pirates are the team that will get Burnett -- and he should help them -- picking up as little as $13 million of the $33 million owed to Burnett for the final two years of his contract.

The Indians still owe Hafner $13 million for this season and have an option for $13 million next season with a $2.75 million buyout, meaning they owe less than half of what they'd be on the line to pay Burnett. To make the deal, the Indians would likely need some money sent back to Cleveland, if not the $20 million they're willing to eat in a deal with the Pirates.

For the Yankees, Hafner is an upgrade of Russell Branyan or Andruw Jones, the two best candidates currently on the roster. Pronk's not the same hitter the Indians signed to a six-year, $66.1 million deal before the 2007 season, but he's still dangerous when at the plate, despite his injury concerns.

Hafner's home run rate has dropped from one per every 10.8 at-bats in 2006 to one every 25 at-bats last season (and a best of one every 21.1 at-bats in 2009 since 2006). But if he's healthy, his left-handed stroke would work well in new Yankee Stadium. While his power numbers have dropped, he still got on-base at a .361 rate, good for a 126 OPS+.

As for the Indians, a rotation with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, Burnett and Josh Tomlin should help in their chase with the Tigers.

In the end, it all comes down to money and just how much the Yankees would take off of Burnett's salary for 2013, but New York may not want to give much if they're taking Hafner's $13 million this season and the buy-out.

The Pirates have some good, young prospects and could offer more future talent while the Yankees could add one of the veteran free agent DHs still left on the market like Vladimir Guerrero or Johnny Damon at little financial hit.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:38 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 12:48 pm
 

Showtime series to feature Guillen's Marlins

Ozzie Guillen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Let the Ozzie show begin.

The Miami Marlins will be featured in this season of Showtime's The Franchise, MLB and the network announced on Monday. Last year the Giants were featured in the six-episode show that followed the Giants from spring training through the season.

The Marlins  are the perfect choice for the series, with not only new manager Ozzie Guillen, but also a new ballpark, new uniforms and new stars in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Throw the ever-volatile Carlos Zambrano into the mix and you may have some television magic.

The 2012 version of the series has already started filming. The Miami Herald reported last week that a camera crew from Major League Baseball filmed the team's meeting with free-agent Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last week in Miami, while Monday's release from MLB and Showtime noted the production has already begun.

The Marlins seem ideal for the task, just looking at the players on the team, and their new manager.

While Guillen will get plenty of face time to be sure, there's also several other entertaining players on the team. Outfielder Logan Morrison has made more of a name for himself with his antics on Twitter than his play on the field, while Bell is one of the game's great characters.

Then there's real-life baseball reasons to follow -- how will Hanley Ramirez take to moving to third base? How about Josh Johnson's return from shoulder inflammation that cost him the majority of 2011. And then there's just the sheer baseball thrill of watching Mike Stanton, one of the best young players in the game. Add a new park, new expectations and the fact that the pay-cable channel won't bleep Guillen and the Marlins were easily the best choice for Showtime -- and the viewers.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.


Posted on: January 15, 2012 5:02 pm
 

Showtime series considering Marlins for season 2

Jose Reyes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Franchise, Showtime and MLB's answer to HBO's popular Hard Knocks, is returning for a second season and a second team. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports the Marlins are under consideration to be this year's subject, following in the footsteps of the San Francisco Giants.

The Marlins would seem to be as good of a pick as any big league team as there's a new stadium, colorful new uniforms, an even more colorful new manager and new talent in the likes of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. The team even has the walking soap opera that is Carlos Zambrano, as well as the spotlight-seeking Logan Morrison.

If Showtime decides to go in another direction, here are some other ideas:

• The A's: It seems Lew Wolff and Billy Beane are trying to pull a real-life version of Major League, putting together a team not to win, but in preparation for a move. Heck, they already have Brad Pitt as the general manager, so we know the camera will love them.

• The Angels: It's a time-honored television tradition, the fish-out-of-story of a family packing up its modest home and heading to California. We've had the Clampetts move out to Bev-er-ly, the Walshes to 90210 and the Fresh Prince hailing a cab for Bel-Air, so why not the Pujols family dealing with the disrespect of being offered a lowly $130 million and finding love and respect in Anaheim? Oh, and there's C.J. Wilson and his race cars and Vernon Wells cashing his paychecks.

• The Yankees and Red Sox: It'd be nice to see these teams get a little attention.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Buehrle's commute lengthened due to pitbull ban

By Matt Snyder

Mark Buehrle pitched 12 seasons in Chicago. He amassed almost 2,500 regular-season innings for the White Sox over that time period, so he was obviously comfortable in Chicago. He could even keep a pitbull at home. That last part may not have seemed like a big deal before, but it evidently is now. Buehrle signed with the Miami Marlins last month, but -- as long as he wants to keep his 18-month-old pitbull, Slater -- he'll have to live outside Miami-Dade County. That county has outlawed pitbulls.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it," Buehrle said (Fish Tank). "Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it’ll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful."

So, instead, Buehrle will commute from one county over.

Pitbull controversies, Carlos Zambrano, Ozzie Guillen, weird new uniforms, a gigantic fish tank, a catcher who rescues old ladies from a car accident, a fake Twitter reporter ... the new Marlins really do have it all.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:47 pm
 

Halladay, CC lead over-30 Hall hopefuls



By Matt Snyder


In our series of Hall of Fame-related posts, leading to Monday's announcement about who will join Ron Santo in the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame class, we continue right here with a grouping of 30-plus year old players who haven't yet rounded out their resumes. None of these guys could retire right now and be a sure bet for the Hall (though the top option would very much have a chance), but all have at least the slimmest of chances.

Hall of Fame coverage
To clarify what we're attempting to do here, this isn't C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder say who should be in the Hall of Fame (though Trent does have only two more years until he's a voter). This is us going through and trying to guess how the entire voting body -- which is larger than 550 people -- would react to certain players. We could be wrong. It's just a fun, and subjective, discussion leading up to the 2012 voting results.

Saturday, we'll check out the under-30 crowd to see who is building a Hall-like foundation to their careers (Hint: You may see a "Felix" on there ... ).

For now, we're looking at players over 30-years-old who are still in their prime or just barely past it.

Looking Good ...

Roy Halladay - Could Doc retire right now and make the Hall? Maybe. Maybe not. I would say it's not a sure thing yet but he's headed to the Hall of Fame, because he's not retiring any time soon. If we do this again next year, he might very well have already moved to the surefire list. He's that close. The eight-time All-Star has two Cy Youngs, seven top-five Cy Young finishes and two runner-up finishes in the voting. He's already amassed over 2,500 career innings pitched with 66 complete games and 20 shutouts. His 188-92 record, 3.23 ERA and 1.17 WHIP all look nice. He'll surpass 2,000 strikeouts this season and he's already 40th all-time in career Wins Above Replacement among pitchers. He'll likely climb into the top 30 this season while going past 200 victories. Oh, and he threw a no-no in the playoffs. At 34, he probably has three years left in his prime. So, yeah, this case is nearly complete, barring him turning into Mike Morgan for the next five years. There are guys already in the Hall with worse numbers.

CC Sabathia - Carsten Charles isn't nearly as close as Halladay, he's just on the right track. CC is a five-time All-Star with one Cy Young and five top five finishes in Cy voting. He has a World Series ring and a 176-96 career record, to go with a 3.51 ERA (125 ERA-plus) and 1.23 WHIP. The problem for Sabathia is, though he's played 11 seasons, he didn't become dominant until 2007 -- yes, he was 17-5 as a rookie, but with a 4.39 ERA and zero complete games. From 2007-11, CC has been a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher, but that's only five years. He does already have over 2,000 strikeouts, though. Another three seasons like the past three he's had for the Yankees and he's a pretty good bet to make it, I'd guess. Five more and he's a lock. Since he's still only 31, I like his chances.

Work to be done ...

Carlos Beltran - A Rookie of Year, six All-Star games, three Gold Gloves, 302 homers, 293 steals. Good? Definitely. Elite? Not yet. And he's a slightly-broken-down 34. It doesn't look promising.

Adrian Beltre -
Those five seasons of having Safeco Field stifle his offensive numbers could prove very costly. He's still only 32, though.

Lance Berkman
- Does the 35-year-old have about three more seasons coming like the one he just had in St. Louis? If so, he may just have a shot. If not, he's just had a really great career.

Mark Buehrle - He's only 32 and sports a 161-119 record along with two no-hitters (one perfecto). Four All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves, too. If Buehrle pitches six more years or so with the same durability he may sneak into discussion.

Chris Carpenter - Injuries probably did him in. If you look at 2004-06 and then 2009-11 for Carpenter, and say he could have done that over a 12-year period in a 16-year career, he's a Hall of Famer. Instead, he really has only those six seasons to bank on, as his six-year stint in Toronto was mediocre. He's 36 now and probably doesn't have enough has left in his tank to put up four more big seasons, especially considering he wasn't awesome in 2011 and worked over 270 innings (playoffs included).

Johnny Damon - Do you believe 3,000 hits is an automatic ticket to the Hall? Everyone with at least 3,000 hits is in the Hall except: Pete Rose (banned from baseball), Derek Jeter (still active), Craig Biggio (not Hall-eligible until next year) and Rafael Palmeiro (tested positive for a banned substance). With 2,723 hits, Damon is two seasons away. But he's 38. But pretty much just as productive as he's been for a long time, according to OPS-plus. We'll see ...

Matt Holliday - In eight seasons, Holliday is a five-time All-Star and has received MVP votes in five different seasons. His rate stats -- .315/.388/.541 with a 137 OPS-plus -- look awesome, but Holliday didn't come up until he was 24. So he's a 31-year-old power hitter with just 202 homers and 770 RBI. Can he keep hitting like this for another eight years? Until then, he's not getting in.

Tim Hudson - His numbers are a bit similar to Sabathia, minus the strikeouts and World Series ring, but he's 36. Hudson will be on a Hall of Fame ballot, but just one, before falling off. Really good career, though.

Paul Konerko - It feels like he doesn't have enough time left. He's a 35-year-old power hitter with 396 homers and 1,261 RBI. Basically, you could say the same thing I said above about Berkman (subbing in "Chicago" for "St. Louis," of course).

Phillies' offensive trio - Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley formed the offensive nucleus for a team that won the NL East five straight years (and counting), the NL two straight years and the 2008 World Series. But considering various circumstances (age, injury history, etc.), it appears the Phillies offense had zero Hall of Famers through this stretch.

Roy Oswalt - Young Roy appeared on the way, finishing in the top five of Cy Young voting five of his first six seasons. The numbers for the 34-year-old show he's got a chance with three more really great seasons, but his balky back poses a huge problem.

Mark Teixeira - He'll turn 32 in April, so it would appear he has an uphill battle with 314 homers and 1,017 RBI thus far in his career. The .904 OPS (132 OPS-plus) looks really good, but Teixiera's only hit .252 the past two seasons combined.

Michael Young - He's a seven-time All-Star with a .304 career batting average and many writers seem to love him (he got a first-place AL MVP vote this year, for example). Young also has 2,061 hits and is 35. Does he have 939 hits left in him? He has 957 in the past five seasons. He could probably play five more seasons as a DH.



So what do you think, readers? Any of these guys have a shot? Who has the best shot?

Coming Saturday: Under-30 players who have laid a foundation
Sunday: "Asterisk" guys with Hall-type resumes
Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Voting for the 2011 MLB Bloggies, Part I



By Matt Snyder


With just a few days left until 2012 brings us a whole new year, it's only fitting to look back at the year that was. Sure, there's an actual baseball season, including spring training, the regular season and the postseason, but things happen nearly every day throughout the entire calendar year. So we're going to create a fake award and call it a Bloggie.

We'll set the table with some nominations and let you, our readers, vote for the winners. This is just Part I. Tuesday, we bring you Part II. Friday, we'll post the winners and our staff picks. Without further ado ...

Best Moment(s) of 2011
No-Hitters: Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano all tossed a no-hitter during the 2011 season, with Verlander doing so for the second time in his career.
10-year anniversary of 9/11: The Cubs and the Mets played the Sunday Night Game on September 11 in New York's Citi Field, with the game itself taking a backseat to the pre-game memorial for the victims and the honoring of service men and women. 
September 28th: Rarely -- if ever -- has the final day of the regular season provided so much drama, as the Cardinals and Rays completed epic comebacks to steal the respective wild cards. Evan Longoria put the cherry on top of an all-around amazing night of baseball with his walk-off home run.
Cooper Stone throws out first pitch: Months after losing his father, Shannon Stone, to a tragic fall, young Cooper Stone threw out the ceremonial first pitch of ALDS Game 1. The catcher? His favorite player, Josh Hamilton, who then embraced Stone just in front of the pitcher's mound.
Game 6: Eleven innings. Nineteen runs. Fifteen pitchers. Beltre and Cruz go deep back-to-back. Freese's triple. Hamilton's homer. Berkman's clutch single. And Freese's walk-off. This was one for the ages in one of the best World Series in recent memory.



Most Historic Milestone
Jeter's 3,000th: On July 9, Derek Jeter hit a home run for hit number 3,000, becoming the 28th player in baseball history to join the elite group.
Thome's 600th: On August 15, Jim Thome went deep twice, the second home run being the 600th of his illustrious career. Only seven other players in big-league history have reached that plateau.
Rivera's 602nd: On September 19, Mariano Rivera locked down the save with ease. It was the 602nd of his career, making him the all-time leader.
Triple Crowned: Verlander led the American League in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Clayton Kershaw pulled off the same feat in the National League. The last time each league had a pitcher take the triple crown was 1924.
Most Valuable: Verlander won both the Cy Young and the AL MVP awards, marking the first time a starting pitcher won the MVP since 1986 and the 10th time in history a player won both the Cy Young and MVP.



Biggest Surprise
The Cardinals: Not only were the eventual World Series champions virtually left for dead in late August, but they went all season without their ace, as Adam Wainwright suffered a season-ending injury in spring training.
The D-Backs: The Arizona Diamondbacks were predicted to finish last in the NL West by nearly everyone. They had finished last the past two seasons, too. But these Snakes came out and won the West by a whopping eight games and took the Brewers to the limit in the NLDS.
The Rays: Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays had won the AL East two of the previous three seasons, but they also lost several key pieces and the payroll was $30 million less than it was in 2010. And the Rays still took the AL wild card from the mighty Red Sox on the final day of the regular season.
Pujols to L.A.: Albert Pujols was a St. Louis Cardinals icon. While he appeared to be flirting with other teams, it only seemed like a ploy to get the Cardinals to pay him more. He wouldn't really leave, would he? Well, he did, signing with the Angels on the final morning of the Winter Meetings.
Marlins' spending spree: For years we've watched the Florida Marlins deal potential high-salary players and be one of the most notoriously frugal clubs around. And then, in less than a week, the newly-named Miami Marlins inked three big-name free agents -- Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.



Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Dunn is done: Adam Dunn has one of the most historically awful offensive seasons ever, and he's a DH. And it was only the first year of a four-year, $56 million contract.
No mo fro? Coco Crisp let his dreads out twice to reveal an incredibly awesome afro. But he didn't stick with it. And, yes, we realize this is a disappointment on a different level, but the Bloggies don't necessarily have to be serious.
Fractured: Marlins bench player Scott Cousins leveled star Giants catcher at home plate, a play in which Posey suffered a season-ending broken leg.
Juiced? NL MVP Ryan Braun failed a drug test and is facing a 50-game suspension, if his appeal is not upheld.



Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Red Sox: You may have heard of a collapse ...
Braves: You may have heard of a collapse ...
Twins: Lots of injuries and underperformance left the two-time defending AL Central champs with 99 losses.
Giants: The defending World Series champs finished eight games back in the NL West and four out in the wild card, sporting one of the worst offenses in baseball.



Most Bush League Moment
Weaver vs. Detroit: Magglio Ordonez watches a home run to see if it's fair or foul. Jered Weaver misinterprets it and thinks he's been shown up, so he has some words for the Tigers. Then Carlos Guillen hits a home run and basically stands still, staring down Weaver. Weaver then threw at Alex Avila and was tossed from the game while screaming at the entire Tigers dugout. You can place blame with Weaver, Guillen or both of them. However you slice it, though, at least one person was far out of line.
Big Z(ero): Carlos Zambrano gets knocked around by the Braves, throws at Chipper Jones -- getting himself ejected -- and then bails on his teammates. Some overheard him talking retirement, but he now is trying to work his way back.
Molina's "spittle:" Yadier Molina may not have intentionally spit on umpire Rob Drake back on August 2, but he did freak out far too much over a called strike and get himself suspended for five games during a pennant race.
Nyjer's mouth: Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan was a polarizing figure all season and that was solidified after the Brewers beat the D-Backs in the NLDS. Morgan was overheard screaming f-bombs right behind a field reporter. OK, maybe he didn't realize it was on live TV. But then when he was summoned for an interview on national TV, he made sure to say it loud and clear right into the microphone.



Worst Call
No pitching inside: Clayton Kershaw was ejected September 14 for (barely) hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch on the elbow. Kershaw had been seen jawing with Parra the previous night, but he also had a one-hitter going and the pitch wasn't very far inside. It definitely seemed like an overreaction by home plate umpire Bill Welke.
Let's go home: An epic 19-inning game ended on a blown call at home plate by Jerry Meals, calling runner Julio Lugo safe at home and giving the Braves the victory over the Pirates on July 26.
Home run? On August 17, Royals DH Billy Butler hit what appeared to be a double in the gap. It bounced high off the outfield wall, hitting some fencing above padding on the wall. The umpires initially ruled a home run, but the play was put under video review. Replays pretty conclusively showed the ball staying in the park -- even the hometown Kansas City announcers were discussing that when the umpires emerged Butler would be ordered to head to second base. Butler was standing on the top step of the dugout with his helmet on when the umpires emerged and upheld the ruling.
Missed tag: In Game 3 of the World Series, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler made an errant throw that pulled first baseman Mike Napoli off the bag. Napoli made a swipe tag that very clearly got Cardinals baserunner Matt Holliday in time. First base umpire Ron Kulpa, however, blew the call, opening the door to a big inning for the Cardinals.



Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
These don't really need an explanation, so we'll jump right to the poll ...



Coming Tuesday: Part II, including Boneheaded Moves of the Year, Weirdest Injury and Most Impressive Home Run
Coming Friday: Voting results and staff picks

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